I expected this to be a disappointment that could in no way live up to Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, I was actually in a state of panic the night before the ‘main event’.
Luckily I was proved entirely wrong. Although The Hobbit (part 1) does not carry the same sense of end of the world urgency that LoTR did, instead having a lighter, more childish tone; it was a complete joy to be back in Jackson’s Middle Earth.
I admit I am not a Tolkien fan, in fact, The Hobbit and LoTR are probably the only books I have read cover to cover and wholly unenjoyed. The only part of The Hobbit (novel) I remember is that long-winded unexpected party at the beginning, and only because as a child I would read that chapter every so often in the hope of reading more but almost always giving up.
However, on screen, this party is NOT long-winded. I only read one review before seeing the film (one of the more positive ones) and cannot believe the backlash this film has received. Yes, it lasts 2 hours and 40 minutes; but I was not bored for a second – in fact – I could have sat through double that time, and could not believe how quickly it was over.
I expected to hate the dwarves but they were great, as was Freeman as Bilbo and McKellan reprising his role as Gandalf. My one qualm was that Galadrial didn’t serve much of a purpose, bordering on cringey, though this did not seem as prominent on a 2nd viewing.
Basically, Jackson has produced a visual feast for the eyes. Whether the action on screen seems trivial, the effects and New Zeland landscapes are something to be marvelled at. Also Howard Shore’s score should be commended. It includes a lot of themes present in LoTR, but the Misty Mountains theme is outstanding.
As for this 48fps debacle – I seriously noticed no difference at all. Either something is very wrong with my eyesight or the cinema tricked me. My first viewing was in IMAX 3d and the visuals in that were bright, extremely clear and the 3d was (dare I say it) immense, bordering on distracting at times as I spent a lot of time gawping in wonder at the visuals rather than taking in the story.
Unlikely to win over many non-LoTR fans, but a spectacle that will please Tolkien and Jackson enthusiasts.